Sunday, August 26, 2007

Depart from me

Verses I wish weren't in the Bible: Matthew 7:21-23

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matt 7:21-23)

This is probably one of the, if not the, passages in the Bible I like least.

If I recall correctly, a repeated name is like a term of endearment. Does that mean these people are saying, “My dearest Lord” or maybe, in modern terms, “My sweet Jesus?” Are these people who truly think they love Jesus?

These people did the work of the kingdom, and I’m not just talking about feeding the poor and preaching the gospel; they drove out demons and performed miracles! They did what we would think of as Spirit empowered things, and yet they do not belong to Jesus.

And so Jesus will say to them, “I never knew you.” What words would you want to hear less than those?

The one who will enter the kingdom is “he who does the will of my Father.” And that is not, apparently, loving Jesus or doing wonderful things in His name. That should send us searching furiously through the scriptures to find out exactly what those words mean.

I think most believers have the occasional moment when they wonder if they’re really saved. In those moments, this verse scares the life out of me.

2 comments:

JonathanCatholic said...

Hey Chris,

Love your blog and all of your posts man. Fantastic to have a smart, thinking Christian out there on the Internet spreading his thoughts and discussing important topics.

Just wanted to comment on this post because it's something that I myself have thought a lot about, both before my conversion to the Catholic Faith and prior as an Evangelical Lutheran. I, too, used to have the occasional, very disturbing self-questioning of whether or not I was "saved." And yes, it was passages of Scripture like that, that scared me quite a bit.. and passages like this:

15 but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; 16 since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." 17 And if you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.- 1 Peter 1:15-17

And like this:

22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, 23 and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that *a man is justified by works* and *not by faith alone*.- James 2:22-24

And this:

6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the Fire and burned... 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love... 12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.- John 15:1-14

JonathanCatholic said...

Sin is simply the opposite of perfect love. Sin is sin because it is a willful action or thought that is contrary to the Nature of God, which is immutable and eternal Love within the Holy Trinity. When Jesus says to us that we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart and all our soul and strength, and our neighbor as our self, and that if we wish to enter into eternal life, we are to keep the commandments, *he wasn't kidding*, just like he wasn't kidding when he said we are to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect. He *really did mean* what he said when he required us to love both the believers and the world with the same self-sacrificial love that he himself showed us, and that if we do not do this, we are not on a path to eternal life with Him and will in fact go to Hell rather than Heaven. It's that simple based on His own words.

Understanding that this is the standard, that perfection is in fact the goal and cannot be muddied or watered-down, and that Biblical salvation consists of a life-long process of faith and works co-operating has actual led me to a vastly greater Faith in the One who said, "Without Me you can do (absolutely and utterly) nothing." I know that without Jesus and His unfathomable Grace I cannot possibly be saved by my own trying. But that doesn't change the goal of perfection.

And that, among other things such as historical doctrine, historical veracity, and the wayy early Christian belief on Church structure/authority and the Eucharist (see Ignatius of Antioch's account of late first century Christian belief both subjects in his seven letters, Justin the Martyrs account of early second century Christian worship and the centrality of the Eucharist, Irenaeus' account of mid second century Christian belief about the Eucharist in Against All Heresies, and Cyprian's account of mid third century Christian belief on the Eucharist) is why I decided to become Catholic and worship as the early Christians worship, and seek grace as the early Christians sought grace. And since then, I can honestly say, I no longer worry or suffer anxiety about definitions of when and if I'm saved or lost, because there is no confusion about that. I am absolutely a Christian based on Faith and conversion in Baptism, and if I continue in Christ, loving all people absolutely as He Himself commands, and seeking His grace and forgiveness in His Church when I fail, I will be with Him in eternity as well. That everlasting salvation is contingent on my choices (including the choice to repent and seek the grace and forgiveness of Jesus) every single hour of every single day, and cannot ever be said or judged absolutely at any given moment of time.

Just wanted to share my thoughts on that passage, and my journey. God bless you and your great blog!

~Jonathan